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Seto Kingdom

The Seto Kingdom Day was inspired by a Forest Finns Republic organized in Norway in the early 1990s. The first Seto Kingdom was announced in 1994 in Obinitsa. Ever since, the Setos have been holding a kingdom day on the first Saturday in August in a different municipality of the Seto region each year. The kingdom has a “border” with “visas on arrival” available to those not clad in Seto folk costume.

During Seto Kingdom, the Setos show off their skills in Seto leelo folk singing, playing instruments and dancing. The best artisans, food and beverage makers are determined, as is the strongest Seto. The most popular activity is determining the master food and beverage makers: for a moderate fee, participants can taste bread, cheese, pies, beers, wines and handsa spirits made by aspiring culinary masters.

As in any proper kingdom, the Setos determine their king as well: he is named after Peko, the Seto folk hero. According to legend, Peko is sleeping eternally in a sandstone cave near Petseri. He cannot rule the kingdom alone and thus the Setos are governed by his representative, chosen by the people in his behalf, called the Regent of Peko, the King of Setos. Peko appears in sleep to his earthly representative and dispenses orders that the Regent must convey to the people.

The centrepiece of the Seto Kingdom celebrations is the election of the Regent.

The Regent is chosen by the people on Seto Kingdom Day. The candidate is required to be of Seto origin and proficient in the Seto language. His or her candidate platform, including pledges, has to be supported by at least 10 people. One leelo choir has to support the candidate with singing, praising his or her merits. The candidates literally “stump” for support, standing on an upright log, and people line up in front of the candidates they want. The candidate with the most people is the new ruler.

After the Regent is chosen, a Seto military parade takes place, full of pageantry. The parade is open to everyone from infants to the elderly, often the “weaponry” consists of shovels and other implements, many people wear a costume, and antique conveyances can also be seen – motor cars and motorcycles.

Seto Kingdom:

More about the Seto Kingdom (in Estonian):